We work hard to “wow” our clients and help them achieve their goals, and, when we do, we like to share stories of their success as inspiration and examples for other districts and organizations seeking solutions to similar challenges.

Our consultants can help you identify root causes of challenges in your system, as we did with our clients in these success stories. We’ll work with you, using a collaborative, capacity building approach to help you design and implement strategic and tactical solutions for improvement, creating a path for you to reach your goals.

Want more information about our consulting services, PD and training options, and customized solutions? Contact us today!

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New principal makes a commitment to consistency; elevates learning with common instructional language and strategies

The new principal at Nebraska’s Lincoln High School was hearing lots of good ideas from teachers, but something was missing: the consistent vocabulary and practices that would be necessary for whole-school improvement. Classroom Instruction That Works and other McREL frameworks provided the common terms and collegial support to spur collaboration. Now an easier, more fluid exchange of ideas is benefiting teachers and their students in an increasingly diverse city.


A rural region of central Arizona finds success with a train-the-trainers approach to professional development

Keeping the schoolhouse doors open is hard enough in rural Arizona. High-quality professional development for the faculty and leadership seemed like an unattainable luxury. But the Yavapai County Education Service Agency wouldn’t give up, and found success by forging a train-the-trainers partnership with McREL. Affordable and sustainable, the initiative relies on local educators who have become authorized facilitators in the Classroom Instruction That Works and Balanced Leadership frameworks. Now professional development is “part of our culture in this area,” in the words of one small-town principal.


“Turnaround” school in Colorado actually turns around . . . with help from Classroom Instruction That Works

Colorado applies the hopeful phrase “Turnaround Plan” to struggling schools, but the reality is that many of them fail to meet the state’s targets and get reprogrammed out of existence. Gilcrest Elementary challenged that pattern by bringing in a McREL consultant to help implement the strategies in our Classroom Instruction That Works titles. With new practical tools and newfound confidence in themselves, the faculty turned things around so convincingly that Gilcrest soon was recognized as one of the Centennial State’s fastest-improving schools. “The results are incredible,” the district superintendent says.


Pacific school system becomes a leader in implementing instructional leadership success strategies

McREL had been working with schools in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for years when a new challenge emerged: Strengthen internal capacity enough to ensure an ongoing supply of highly capable leaders for the country’s 19 schools on 15 islands. Constructing a “principal pipeline” meant diving deeply into the Balanced Leadership framework over several years. Ultimately the school system and McREL arrived at an entirely new implementation support program that guides the learning journey of everybody in the system, from kindergartener to commissioner, and prepares emerging school leaders for the challenges ahead.


Small-scale, high-quality study boosts confidence in vocabulary tool

The publishers of a supplemental vocabulary-building program called VocabularySpellingCity® thought they had a hit on their hands, but without data, how could they be sure? They turned to McREL to start generating answers. Our small-scale but rigorously designed study showed a clear advantage for students who got to play with the program in addition to studying traditional word lists. Students loved using it because succeeding was fun, and their test scores followed suit. Now VocabularySpellingCity has a solid starting point for further research.


Strengthening leadership and instruction in Minnesota district leads to academic gains

In 2011, changes in the Minnesota Legislature required districts to establish formal principal evaluation systems and job descriptions aligned to district goals and to include observations and data on student growth in their reporting. School District 197, located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, turned to McREL for a research-based principal evaluation system and aligned leadership development program to build a framework that met the state’s goals and requirements. Since implementation in 2013, the district has been more intentional in its improvement planning and implementation, and has seen increases in achievement in science (+3.6%), reading (+4.5%), and math (+7.6%).


Reducing variability leads to achievement gains in large Nebraska district

Lincoln Public Schools is the second largest district in the state of Nebraska—and getting larger every year. With a rapid increase in the number and diversity of students, the district was looking for a way to ensure effective instruction across its schools. The research-based instructional strategies of McREL’s Classroom Instruction That Works provided the consistency the district needed and led not only to better teaching but also to improved achievement districtwide.


Study finds link between school climate and literacy achievement

The Department of Education and Training in Victoria, Australia contracted McREL to develop a highly reliable staff opinion survey to measure five key areas of school function: school climate, school leadership, professional learning, staff safety and well-being, and teaching and learning. Using a predictive validity study to examine the survey results as they relate to student achievement on standardized assessments, McREL researchers found that school climate was the greatest predictor of Grade 5 achievement in literacy. Further statistical analysis showed that strong leadership led to better teacher collaboration, which then led to academic optimism.


Coaching is the key to systemic improvement for growing Tennessee district

This large, suburban district partnered with McREL to improve the effectiveness of its current and aspiring leaders, including instructional supervisors, principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders. McREL helped the district establish frameworks and structures for shared leadership, coaching, and collaborative planning—emphasizing innovation and principles of high-reliability organizations.


Cultural connections lead to systemic change in Cree Nation

The Cree Nation School Board partnered with McREL to develop and implement a multi-year comprehensive school improvement plan for 11 schools spread across Quebec, including a tri-lingual guaranteed and viable curriculum. The schools are now collaborating in new ways to address challenges and share successes, which include increases in student attendance and graduation rates.


“Outstanding alignment” in rural Wyoming district leads to stair-step improvement in student outcomes

A rural district partnered with McREL on system-wide PD for instruction and leadership that was aligned with the district’s strategic plan and personnel evaluation systems. This comprehensive solutions approach led to steady improvement in student outcomes and best-in-state accreditation ratings.


McREL evaluates TQP partnership-funded teacher residency programs

Working with two universities’ Teacher Quality Partnership programs, McREL assessed differential outcomes in classroom practice, student achievement, and employment retention, helping program staff refine the programs’ curriculum, processes, support services, and PD for future participants.


McREL helps Florida districts better implement and evaluate PD

Working collaboratively with the Florida Department of Education, McREL designed and delivered eight technical assistance modules to school districts across the state in order to help them improve their PD systems, including assessing needs, monitoring implementation, and evaluating impact.


Empowering the classroom with cutting edge nanoscience and technology

McREL’s NanoTeach project created high-quality PD that blended instructional strategies from Designing Effective Science Instruction (Tweed, 2009) with hands-on learning of nanoscience and technology (NS&T) content, using research-proven strategies and inquiry-based practices that help teachers became more confident in their ability to teach NS&T. Assessments of the program showed significant increases in student content knowledge and higher levels of engagement and interest in science among teachers and students.


Science4Us engages young scientists and gets results

Education curriculum company turns to McREL to determine if its online program for early elementary science improved student achievement, increased teacher confidence to teach science, and motivated more students to engage in science. McREL’s study found that Science4Us helped students make statistically significant improvements on content knowledge.